When does life begin?

March 2nd, 2012 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Killing newborns is morally the same as and should be permissible if the mother wishes it, Australian philosophers have argued in an article that has unleashed a firestorm of criticism and forced the British Medical Journal to defend its publication.

Alberto Giubilini, from Monash University, and Francesca Minerva, from the University of Melbourne, say a foetus and a newborn are equivalent in their lack of a sense of their own life and aspiration. They contend this justifies what they call “after-birth abortion” as long as it is painless, because the baby is not harmed by missing out on a life it cannot conceptualise.

The first flaw in their arguments is that it is not legal to abort a foetus, once it is capable of surviving outside the womb. Abortion is legal because a mother has rights over her womb which trump that of the foetus. Those rights disappear once  the foetus can survive outside the womb, and most definitely after they have left the womb.

About a third of infants with Down syndrome are not diagnosed prenatally, Drs Giubilini and Minerva say, and mothers of children with serious abnormalities should have the chance to end the child’s life after, as well as before, birth.

But this should also extend to healthy infants, the pair argue in the BMJ group’s Journal of Medical Ethics, because the interests of a mother who is unwilling to care for it outweigh a baby’s claims.

Putting aside for one moment the main issue, why on earth would the mother have the right to decide, and not both parents? Again once the baby has been born, the parents have equal rights.

On the main issue, I think the proposal is horrific. The precedent it creates is monstrous.

It is worth noting the authors seem to be from the School of Philosophy, not medical doctors.

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148 Responses to “When does life begin?”

  1. notforsale (6 comments) says:

    You are aware it is framed as an academic debate. Not a formal proposal for policy?

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  2. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “On the main issue, I think the proposal is horrific. The precedent it creates is monstrous”

    yes it is, except the precedent has already been set and supported by you. Killing Babies, at ANY age, is monstrous. Calling it a “foetus” is just self-delusion. Morally, your support for abortion is no different to this proposal.

    Killing babies in and out of the womb. Welcome to the world Liberals have created.

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  3. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    So easy to philosophize with human life when it is living and breathing in your arms. I find such a publishing abhorrent.

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  4. Lance (2,634 comments) says:

    To even ‘academically’ debate this displays these peoples amoral reasoning.

    The path many monsters have started down in history.

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  5. ben (2,375 comments) says:

    And media headline is: “Newborn abortion rage”, and headline text is “Claim killing newborns is the same as abortion, and should be allowed if the mother wishes, unleashes firestorm of criticism. ”

    Nice to see the media taking the high road in this and sticking with the neutral, unemotive language.

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  6. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Yeah, they’re playing devils advocate. How does that sound Steve Chadwick

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  7. Brad (75 comments) says:

    And you get fools thinking it’s a serious proposal, it’s purely theoretical ffs

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  8. Matt (224 comments) says:

    Has it not occured to anyone else that this may be a ploy by some pro-lifers?

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  9. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “And you get fools thinking it’s a serious proposal, it’s purely theoretical ffs”

    So what? A theoretical proposal is STILL a proposal and can and should be debated. In fact, better now than later.

    “Has it not occured to anyone else that this may be a ploy by some pro-lifers?”

    Not being a liberal, I’m not generally prone to Liberal delusions and conspiracy theories.

    By the way, this proposal is not new. Liberals have been advocating this for decades.

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  10. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    “… and a newborn are equivalent in their lack of a sense of their own life and aspiration. ”

    I would have thought the act of independent breathing was aspirational so in my opinion the second part of the argument is not only a moral failure but a philosophical failure as well.

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  11. ben (2,375 comments) says:

    I haven’t read the article but don’t agree with what they say based on the reporting, but it would be better if these debates could just be debated, since all that has been exchanged is ideas, without the inevitable calls for the authors to be sacked, tarred, and feathered.

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  12. Lance (2,634 comments) says:

    @Brad
    So its perfectly ok with you to talk offensive shit just so long as you label it theoretical?
    And this is seriously offensive to many

    Wow

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  13. Nick K (1,228 comments) says:

    There are plenty of adults in this country who lack of a sense of their own life and aspiration. Do we allow the mum to kill them too?

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  14. Dazzaman (1,138 comments) says:

    Whether it’s a theoretical or not Brad, it’s still heinously abhorrent & now out there on the table for the morally bankrupt among us to push further…..

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  15. david (2,556 comments) says:

    Perhaps the authors of this crap should be diagnosed as being brain-dead and therefore “not wanted”. They have proposed the solution and are free to impose it upon themselves at any old time.

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  16. Matt (224 comments) says:

    Guess which website pops up when I google Francesca Minerva? http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/

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  17. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    Oh DPF….cue 347 comments on this, with an increasing level of irrationality…and once the God botherers vs. the atheists arrive…

    But for the record, my view is that this IS one example where no matter how logical the initial premise might be, the “slippery slope” argument is absolutely relevant….Other than that relatively banal contribution, this is an issue just too “icky” for me…

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  18. berend (1,704 comments) says:

    DPF: Those rights disappear once the foetus can survive outside the womb

    Oh really? Who gives a person the right of person? Bestowed by government? And you’re disingenuous, the horrible practice of killing babies up to full term happens in NZ without a second thought.

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  19. Peter (1,699 comments) says:

    Doesn’t offend me. Humans have been doing this up until fairly recently in our history – as late as the 70’s. If a baby was not quite right, they were “put aside”. If a woman tests for downs, it shows negative, then has the baby, and it has downs, then why the difference?

    And if you think it’s abhorrent, then *you* take the baby and look after it.

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  20. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    Perhaps we should consider a proposal to allow post academic study abortions when it is clear that such academics have no sense of their own life and aspirations.

    A couple of num nuts really-whats the bet they are both childless & moral less.

    Having said that this is the direction that society heads to when it embraces the concept of relative values.

    If you argue that right & wrong should be decided by a majority of society and that these may change depending on the whim of society in general then where does it stop?

    Apparently it is PC (and it has been for several decades) to argue that people should be able to do anything as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. And my truth is different from your truth so piss off.

    But if this is all is based on then how do you stop someone saying: whats wrong with hurting people? They may say I like hurting people, who says it is wrong? Why shouldn’t I beat someone up, or kill someone, or rape a little girl, or put a baby in a washing machine? Who cares? I want to do it so who cares?

    If the same liberal then turns around and says no rape & murder are wrong because they are, then they defeat their own relative value assertion.

    This will continue justifying more & more deviant behaviour until the liberal society collapses under its own moral decay.

    Absolute morals would argue that certain behaviours are wrong in & of them selves (and if your society is religious these morals are given a theological basis) however while many would nod their heads and say yup murderers, rapists, child molesters, yup definitely wrong.

    However you can’t cherry pick absolute moral values so the same folk who accept that murdering is wrong would also have to accept that stealing, lying, and adultery is also wrong and then they start to squirm as their conscience starts throwing stones at them because they are just as guilty as the murderer they condemn.

    So it seems a choice.

    A strict moral society that is sustainable but with less personal freedom, or an amoral society with lots of freedom but that is heading to terminal decay.

    All these nutty academics are doing is pushing the boundaries a little more – if we allow killing of babies/foetuses in the womb then why not after birth? If we accept euthenasia for terminally ill folk then why not for invalids and mentally handicapped folk? Why not broaden it to criminals and physically handicapped folk?

    Where does the relativity stop?

    Instead of arguing that killing babies is morally wrong.

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  21. Hoolian (220 comments) says:

    Finally, David, you understand the revulsion pro-lifers have towards abortion. Where you would consider a mother killing her child minutes after its born, pro-lifers share similar revulsion when a mother kills her child minutes after its concieved.

    Also a newborn infant, technically, can’t survive outside the womb without its mother. It would starve.

    The same arguements used to support abortion at any stage (lifestyle, mother’s rights over the child, don’t want to bring children into a bad relationship, has downsyndrome so will live a half life so better off aborted etc) are used by people to justify infantcide.

    There’s no difference between killing someone inside the womb or outside.

    If you don’t respect life from the moment its conceived, when does it matter?

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  22. berend (1,704 comments) says:

    Lee01: So what? A theoretical proposal is STILL a proposal and can and should be debated. In fact, better now than later.

    Let’s debate the obviously theoretical proposal to gas all Jews. Only theoretical!!!

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  23. PaulL (5,965 comments) says:

    Clearly a position intended to make people think why this is so abhorrent, but we permit abortion. So getting all excited that these people think this could happen is just silly – they don’t. They want the opposite result – for people to stop abortions.

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  24. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Some recalibration is needed here.

    The law says in Section 18 of the CSA Act “every person who—(a) performs an abortion elsewhere than in a licensed institution; or (b) performs an abortion otherwise than in pursuance of a certificate issued by 2 certifying consultants under section 33,—commits an offence and is liable…”. The exceptions we are familiar with. The point is that the law says abortion is illegal – except in certain situations. The law recognises that the unborn child has some special nature by the very fact that the law says certain serious exceptions must exist for the termination, namely “that abortion is immediately necessary to save the life of the patient or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health.”

    SOME ASSERT THAT THE NEW ZEALAND LAW SAYS ‘WOMAN HAVE RIGHTS OVER THEIR’ BODIES. ACTUALLY THE LAW SAYS NOTHING OF THE SORT.

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  25. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    “Oh really? Who gives a person the right of person? Bestowed by government? And you’re disingenuous, the horrible practice of killing babies up to full term happens in NZ without a second thought.”

    Have you any evidence of that in particular in regards very late term abortions or even abortions past say 22 weeks?

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  26. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    “Also a newborn infant, technically, can’t survive outside the womb without its mother. It would starve.”

    Contrary to the view of some feminists a baby will not die if the father bottle feeds it.

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  27. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    DPF and others may assert that because the system allows de facto abortion on demand in NZ (which I think basically it does), therefore the system acknowledges the woman’s right to choose. There is a blatant hypocrisy here by people who vigorously defend the rule of law, but in the case of abortion they turn a blind eye for the sake of convenience.

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  28. Fletch (6,294 comments) says:

    The idiots that wrote said article are also supposedly experts in professional ethics, and when the outcry agasint what they said happened, the editor of the magazine they wrote the article for referred to it as “hate speech”. Can you believe it? People disagreeing over babies being killed is “hate speech”, and infanticide is OK because they “do it in the Netherlands”

    Never heard of such tripe.
    Bill Muehlenberg wrote an article about it. A snipett below is what the editor of the controversial magazine said.

    “The editor of an ethics journal that recently published an article advocating infanticide (what the authors call ‘post-birth abortion’), has responded to widespread criticism by pointing out that promoting the killing of newborns is nothing new: in fact, in the Netherlands infant euthanasia is already legal and practiced.

    “Editor Julian Savulescu also criticizes what he calls the ‘hate speech’ directed at the authors of the article, arguing that the public’s response to the piece shows that ‘proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.’

    “In the journal article Alberto Giubilin, a philosopher from the University of Milan, and Francesca Minerva, an ethicist from the University of Melbourne, made the case that ‘after-birth abortion’ should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is perfectly healthy. They base their argument on the premise that the unborn baby and the newborn do not have the moral status of actual persons and are consequently ‘morally irrelevant.’

    “In response to the backlash, Savulescu wrote that the arguments in the article ‘are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris.’

    “He also observes that the paper ‘draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands’.”

    “Very values of liberal society” – yes, they have that right. How DARE we oppose the sacred cow of abortion?

    Muehlenberg goes on to say in the article –

    Indeed, according to Savulescu, fanatics are those who think infanticide is morally wrong. Yet evidently those eggheads who justify killing already-born babies are somehow not fanatics! Talk about moral inversion and perversion. Two and a half millennia ago the prophet Isaiah said this: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

    He must have had in mind these so-called ethicists which we are plagued with today. And the good editor informs us that we are simply “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”. Oh, so a liberal society has as its highest values the killing of new born babies, even perfectly healthy ones? And to oppose that is “hate speech,” “fanaticism,” and a threat to “academic discussion and freedom”.

    I cannot recall hearing such morally perverted “reasoning” for quite some time. And these guys are ethicists? They are teaching us what the good and moral life is meant to be? In their warped scheme of things, killing babies is very good, while opposing such atrocities is very bad.

    I am really just flabbergasted – almost speechless. These are the cream of the crop of our ethicists, teaching others how to think ethically? These are the ones calling the shots about what is right and wrong in our universities, journals and public arenas?

    No wonder we are in such dire straits. With experts like these allowed to get away with these abominations, we really do not stand a chance. Talk about Dr Evil and Dr Death. Talk about rogue ethicists who are polluting the very moral fibre of our society. Talk about dancing with the devil.

    http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/02/29/opposing-baby-killing-is-now-%E2%80%98hate-speech%E2%80%99/

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  29. Danny-boy (102 comments) says:

    Pro-choicers struggle to define when life actually begins. DPF believes it’s when the fetus is capable of surviving outside the womb. But of course, it couldn’t survive independently in the wild. Others believe it’s when its experiences begin to approximate what a non-debatable life experiences: memories, concepts, meaningful emotions, interaction with the world. These academics take it a step further, defining it as when it attributes value to its own life, can make plans for the future, appreciates and values that you are actually alive.

    It’s an important argument, and certainly more compelling than the one that says it starts at some point between when sperm leaves the penis and hits the egg, depending on your religion of choice.

    I think the argument for the mother deciding is because morally (they argue) she “owns” the baby given her relative effort in producing it.

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  30. tknorriss (327 comments) says:

    Would killing the baby outside the womb be OK if the baby was a ginger, DPF? :smile:

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  31. Fletch (6,294 comments) says:

    ps, I think it should be noted that even though a foetus is living in a woman’s body, it is not part of the woman’s body. The unborn baby has it’s own DNA and bloodtype which does not change throughout it’s whole life – ie, it is a wholly separate entity.

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  32. Graeme Edgeler (3,283 comments) says:

    The first flaw in their arguments is that it is not legal to abort a foetus, once it is capable of surviving outside the womb. Abortion is legal because a mother has rights over her womb which trump that of the foetus. Those rights disappear once the foetus can survive outside the womb

    False.

    1. You appear to be attempting to apply New Zealand law to some Australian academics.
    2. Your understanding of New Zealand abortion law is wrong.
    3. Your understanding of Victorian abortion law is wrong.
    4. Lawful abortions can be performed at any stage of a pregnancy in both New Zealand and Victoria, irrespective of the viability of the foetus.

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  33. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    I just heard on the news that a 29 year old woman from Christchurch has been charged with infanticide.

    I wonder how many know that a woman can deliberately kill a baby or child up to the age of 9 and be able to get off with infanticide instead of murder. It does not even have to be her own child.

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  34. Fletch (6,294 comments) says:

    Danny-boy, I’ve heard that argument too. I still don’t buy it, for the reason that however young the baby is, it’s STILL going to grow older and develop into a person. That is how nature designed it to be, and one doesn’t have to be a scientist to know it. Most thinking people know where babies come from and why. Does it matter how old or developed it is now? It doesn’t to me.

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  35. Danny-boy (102 comments) says:

    Fletch

    … it is a wholly separate entity.

    Fallopian tube?

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  36. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    It really doesn’t help humanity’s cause, that no-one can ever discuss these sorts of issues sensibly in public without people shouting YUCK!!! and getting their religious outrage or their tut-tutting on.

    My wife is 27 weeks along with my first child (her second).

    We didn’t get the 20-week scan done, and one of the reasons we didn’t bother is that the kinds of abnormalities that they pick up are mostly the ones that aren’t incompatible with life. (Nuchal folds for Down’s Syndrome, or is that just a random bit of flesh? We felt that EVEN IF something like that was picked up, we wouldn’t abort our child unless it had problems that really weren’t compatible with life (e.g. heart or neural tube defects.)

    We are both pretty liberal and don’t oppose the availability of abortion as it is now. But that does not mean abortion is something that we personally would want to choose.

    Babies should not be treated as by-products of a failed sex life by their parents.

    But women should not be treated as sacrificial cocoons by the State either…

    Unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE TIME somebody smart, erudite and lucid sticks their head above the parapet and tries to facilitate an intelligent conversation about these issues, half a million simpletons start screaming blue murder… :-(

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  37. Lance (2,634 comments) says:

    @RRM
    “Unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE TIME somebody smart, erudite and lucid sticks their head above the parapet and tries to facilitate an intelligent conversation about these issues, half a million simpletons start screaming blue murder… ”

    wow so smart people put forward this …… debate….. and simpletons disagree with it?

    Wouldn’t have already made up your mind there would you?

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  38. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Don’t just take my word for it Lance.

    ACTUALLY READ what they are saying, and apply your free mind and your faculty for critical thinking to it.

    You can do it lance.

    You don’t need the Good Book to make all your decisions for you.

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  39. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “It really doesn’t help humanity’s cause, that no-one can ever discuss these sorts of issues sensibly in public without people shouting YUCK!!! and getting their religious outrage or their tut-tutting on.”

    Yes, its so annoying that you cannot debate issues without people who disgree with you joining the debate.

    What kind of a debate would that be exactly?

    “But women should not be treated as sacrificial cocoons by the State either”

    Children at any age should not be treated as sacrificial offerings to liberal idols.

    “Unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE TIME somebody smart, erudite and lucid sticks their head above the parapet and tries to facilitate an intelligent conversation about these issues, half a million simpletons start screaming blue murder”

    Wow. Tha is one of the most sweeping statements of arrogance I have seen on this site.

    So, “smart, erudie and lucid” means liberals, right? And simpletons means anyone with a sociallly conservative point of view?

    I’m not sure you want “smart, lucid, euridte” debate at all. You want only those who share your ideology to engage in important social questions.

    Liberal fascism at its best.

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  40. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “ACTUALLY READ what they are saying, and apply your free mind and your faculty for critical thinking to it.”

    By “free mind” and “critical” thinking you mean liberal ideology. Please use honest statements.

    “You don’t need the Good Book to make all your decisions for you.”

    You don’t need liberal ideology to make all yours.

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  41. Mark (1,479 comments) says:

    If the test for termination is a sense of self and having aspiration does that mean that Alzheimers sufferers, mentally disabled and Labour politicians also qualify for termination or would they only qualify if their mothers were still there to make the decision.

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  42. gump (1,634 comments) says:

    There are some serious (and thankfully rare) congenital conditions for which a post-natal abortion is the *only* moral choice.

    Do a google image search for Harlequin Ichthyosis and try to imagine the hellish levels of pain that those babies endure.

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  43. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Berend,

    “Let’s debate the obviously theoretical proposal to gas all Jews. Only theoretical!!!”

    I think you have misunderstood my point. I am not saying we should debate the actual proposal. The proposal itself is evil and beyond the pale. It does not need to be debated. The authors need to be fired and should not be allowed to teach children or live anywhere near a school.

    I was responding to the claim by Brad that just because the proposal is “theoretical” we should not get upset about it and respond to it.

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  44. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    By “free mind” and “critical” thinking you mean liberal ideology.

    No, I don’t.

    Idiot.

    I mean exactly what I said – read, and think for yourself.

    People who are too stupid to even do THAT, and just want to shut down the discussion, are the problem.

    People like you Lee.

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  45. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    RRM,

    No, you mean liberal ideology. Your just being dishonest. EVERYONE thinks for themselves. Its arrogant crap to claim those of us who are social conservatives, or religious, do not do so. Its crap to claim we do not think critically. I have met more genuinely critical thinkers in Christian circles than I have elsewhere.

    You simply using phrases and words like “free mind” and “critical thinking” to disguise your liberal religion.

    Try to be honest and apply your critical faculties to your own prejudice.

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  46. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “People who are too stupid to even do THAT, and just want to shut down the discussion, are the problem.”

    No, people who think murdering babies is a legitimate choice and that baby muder should be discussed “rationally” are the problem.

    People like you.

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  47. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    No, people who think murdering babies is a legitimate choice and that baby muder should be discussed “rationally” are the problem.

    If you read the article, you may get the idea that they are actually not seriously proposing that there should be on-request legalised murder of newborns.

    But you won’t even read the article, so what does it matter?

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  48. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    RRM…

    As female atheist who supports abortion, and has just finished reading the news article sbouth the 27 year old woman for killed her new born child and hid the body, l freely and open mindedly admits I still find academic debate, abhorrent.

    Feel free to call me stupid.

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  49. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Northland Wahine –

    The laws that we have right now, that enable the availability of abortions as we have it right now –
    How, do you suppose, was that law conceived and drafted up? If not by people debating the issue?

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  50. markra (200 comments) says:

    RPM says free you mind, so you can think like him.

    Ok so whats wrong with Murder, Killing full aged Adults. Let s have an academic discussion about that as well.

    Or how about Rape. There could be some circumstances where the woman doesn’t really know what’s best for her. What’s wrong with having a discussion about that?

    We could academic discussions about all the topics above and question them philosophically. We don’t because they are considered off the table, morally wrong(by societies standards) just the same as killing a new born baby. Abortion is already pushing the envelope but it is sometimes a situation hard to draw a line on and police.

    If you kill a new born , then where is the demarcation line, 10 days old, 20 days, a month, what about 5 years old.

    All the views on topics may all change in the future, but hope I am not around when they do.

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  51. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    For christs’s sake markra, I am not saying I think parents should be free to kill newborn babies.

    Is it a full moon or something?

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  52. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    David Farrar says:- “It is worth noting the authors seem to be from the School of Philosophy, not medical doctors”

    What do you expect? This is an ethical issue, not a medical one.

    Personally I find abortion very hard to ethically justify if the foetus is healthy and not concieved by rape which shows you don’t have to be a moral absolutist to be pro-life.

    In the end the secular argument boils down to one question: “Does a foetus have human rights?”

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  53. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    RRM, rationalize it all you wish. (and I apologise for the typing errors, blame the bloody phone)…

    This kind of debate worries me for reasons markra has pin pointed above. And we keep repeating or regurgitating it often enough and people start to believe this academic rationale and gains supposed merit.

    Next thing we know, defense lawyers are using such debate as “defense evidence” to acquit people to kill a child.

    A long stretch you may think… Sadly, given the reasons and excuses we see almost daily in our national papers, I disagree.

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  54. markra (200 comments) says:

    @RPM What I am saying is that some things are off the the table. Not open to even debate about. Killing newborns is at the start of a slippery slope that any sensible person knows is not worth debating.

    If you think you can have a serious conversation about killing New born babies, maybe you should have had it with people such as Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong, Khmer Rouge etc.

    I am sure all these people had feasible, logical and sound philosophical arguments(in their minds) to vindicate their actions.

    You don’t need to be a bible basher or religious zealout to know that.

    If it is just an academic argument with no base in reality, then whats the point of wasting their own time and the people who fund their department. One doesn’t have to put every idiotic, ill conceived idea in their head onto paper.

    RPM , I think you may be on drugs like those who wrote such a ridiculous paper. It is rampant you know in most University Philosophy Departments.

    It’s very hard to take you seriously. And those that do should take stock and have a laugh at themselves.

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  55. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Northland Wahine –

    How do you think the Athenian Republic came about?
    How do you think the abolition of slavery in the USA came about?
    How do you think the comparative lengths of prison sentences allowed for rape vs murder are figured out?

    Because – thankfully – some people are capable of discussing complex ideas even when they are uncomfortable.

    I really don’t believe we will ever see legalised termination of newborns in New Zealand, and I am very happy about that.

    But nothing is more conducive to bad laws, barbarism and injustice than ignorance. Except perhaps wilful ignorance / taboo which is even worse…

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  56. Griff (7,515 comments) says:

    “Does a fetus have human rights?”
    When do those”rights trump those of the host?

    At present new Zealand has the balance about right no matter wot the conservatives spout. I very much doubt that our present stance will change towards infanticide. Some times it does happen that those to defective to survive are “put out in the snow” just as the old are sometimes “allowed” to die. . An ethical conundrum faced by health professionals .

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  57. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    By contrast, look at some Islamic countries where they occasionally stone rape victims to death for the crime of adultery…

    Because once there is the allegation that “I’m telling you she enjoyed it!” they don’t want to know any more, the whole subject is too taboo and repellant to them to even discuss, and they prefer to just get their moral outrage on. (Well their morals anyway.)

    THAT’S why it’s important to have free academic discussions about yucky topics like this.

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  58. markra (200 comments) says:

    I think those that are arguing this and reacting in a concerned way should realise that having an argument about such a stupid topic, is only going to be a waste of your own time and energy and feed those who obviously have psychological problems. You will likely have no effect anyway.

    Those academics who wrote about it are likely Academics on Drugs who have nothing better to do.

    There are those out their who can’t see the problem with this. They are of course exercising their freedom of thought, although I feel sorry for them. Known as Insane. Such people who usually have such thought have an obviously pscyiatric issue of some sort.

    There will be those who might act on it, as there have always been. Medicine usually label those types of people, Criminally insane.

    By arguing this topic with Idiots that even consider it valid you are feeding this topic as legitimate by giving credibility to it. I am going to somewhere else to discuss something that has some merit.

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  59. Bevan (3,923 comments) says:

    This is gonna be a ten pager.

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  60. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Not now that Markra’s stormed out!

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  61. markra (200 comments) says:

    Islamic countries that stone and rape woman for adultery.

    Can anyone seriously say they have progressed further than they have 2000 years ago. I think the name or them and their societies, is Prehistoric.

    I do agree with you on the point of the dangers of religious zealoutry and not being able to question. I feel that is why some of those Islamic Countries are really still living in the Darkages and why they will never prosper until they shred their religious rubbish.

    Anyway I think this topic is stupid, to the point of laughing and have got other things less trivial to do.

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  62. Ryan Sproull (7,101 comments) says:

    Ok so whats wrong with Murder, Killing full aged Adults. Let s have an academic discussion about that as well.

    Oh no, not another capital-punishment thread.

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  63. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    @ markra

    Hospitals have these debates every day over whether to withold care for ill and injured patients. They even have them over babies. Withholding care when it can be given is a form of intentional killing, even though it may only stave off death by hours or days, as is application of some medicines that can hasten death. Intelligent people having theoretical dicsussions in appropriate forums seems to me a very good way of providing frameworks that people at the sharp end of these decisions can use in their life or death decisions.

    High five for that comment Ryan

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  64. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Anyway I think this topic is stupid, to the point of laughing and have got other things less trivial to do.

    That’s twice you’ve said that, now. Run along then.

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  65. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    RRM…

    I understand your logic… And just as you are firm in why you believe these topics should be openly debated, I too am firm in mine.

    Or maybe I don’t… Because I do not believe I need academics to tell me what I think is right and what I think is wrong. Call it willful ignorance if you wish. I call it following my own conscious.

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  66. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    “THAT’S why it’s important to have free academic discussions about yucky topics like this. ”

    RRM, using your logic it is okay to discuss changing the law on lowing the age of consent to say 6 as NAMBLA advocates?

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  67. markra (200 comments) says:

    RPM

    “But nothing is more conducive to bad laws, barbarism and injustice than ignorance. Except perhaps wilful ignorance / taboo which is even worse…”

    This discussion is nothing new, you seem to think you have found something new here. HAha , you haven’t, its rubbish.

    As for nothing Taboo. AKA morals standards, ethics. Go and watch Caligula, and see how society exists without any Morals, Standards or Taboos.

    C U

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  68. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Northland Wahine:
    I do not believe I need academics to tell me what I think is right and what I think is wrong.

    Nope, and I don’t either. You may find that that is not what they are trying to do, IF YOU READ WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. ;-)

    Anyway those who prefer less challenging topics are already well supplied with material to think about, via the Womens’ magazines…

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  69. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    RRM, using your logic it is okay to discuss changing the law on lowing the age of consent to say 6 as NAMBLA advocates?

    It’s entirely ok Chuck. In fact, let’s do it right now, shall we?

    I think 6 year olds are not emotionally, intellectually or physically ready for sexual relationships. any such “relationship” would probably be predatory on the part of the older party and would mess the younger one up. And then there’s the life-threatening internal injuries…

    Therefore I think there is absolutely no way the age of consent should be lowered to 6. What do you think?

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  70. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    Not being a reader of women’s magazines you may wish to enlighten me.

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  71. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    This discussion is nothing new, you seem to think you have found something new here. HAha , you haven’t, its rubbish.

    C U

    And that’s your THIRD curtain call.

    C U – wldn’t wnt 2 B U :-P

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  72. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    It’s easy enough determining when life ends, but not when it begins. It’s an evolving process.

    A living thing separates from another living thing, and combines with a part of another living thing where it develops until it can emerge and survive, first with essential assistance from other living things until it can eventually survive on it’s own.

    Laws began evolving much more recently than life, they are arbitrary social constructs that change with knowledge, changing technology and social pressure.

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  73. markra (200 comments) says:

    @insider

    Your hospital example is problematic and not relevant.

    These are professionals making the best of a bad situation, however they are acting in the interests of the patient(the newborn) even it means withholding care ie minimise pain and suffering etc,

    They don’t kill newborns because a mother wishes it. The differnce is:
    Hospital tries to look after the baby or stop suffering for the baby, not for a third party.

    To try and link the two is ridiculous.

    I think a closer example would be – Hitler – We should exterminate the Jews because they are using resources that ordinary germans could use. Or we should kill the the People in country Y because they are polluting the environment and risking the lives of others in country Z. In each of the example someone is being killed to benefit someone else.
    They are extreme examples but on the same continuum at the extreme.

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  74. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Godwinned!

    http://i1010.photobucket.com/albums/af230/RRM22/TheHitlerCard.jpg
    (the Hitler card)

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  75. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Yous surprise me, David. You support euthanasia, so the issue of killing people is not so black and white. How much suffering should a baby and/or the baby’s parents should endure before a baby is better off dead? We pull the plug on adults who are on life support and who suffer, so I am not sure why this should generate such heat.

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  76. markra (200 comments) says:

    I think RPM may be a NEo NAZI. He has a picture of his father to show us.

    Boy you found that quick.

    Zeig Heil RPM

    Hahah

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  77. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The text of the article is here:

    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/02/22/medethics-2011-100411.full

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  78. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    RRM,

    “But you won’t even read the article, so what does it matter?”

    In fact I did read the article.

    Try again.

    The problem is that not all “rational” debate is good and useful. It may have been on some issues, such as slavery, but that does not mean it is justifiable on every issue or every propostion.

    Murdering children is wrong. We do not have to debate that. And there is nothing remotely “rational” about doing so.

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  79. Griff (7,515 comments) says:

    When is a body no longer human
    if you had a severely retarded child would you willingly sacrifice the next 50 years to care for a body with no one home?
    Is it your right to insist that someone else does that?

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  80. nonpartisan (41 comments) says:

    I think I’m with RRM here. Personally, I’m opposed to pre-natal abortion and repulsed by the idea of killing newborns, but trying to shut down academic debate on these issues is a whole other world of trouble.

    Markra, your posts have become extremely irrational. Time to step away from the keyboard.

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  81. KevinH (1,217 comments) says:

    The discussion is fundamentally flawed because a newborn is engaged with their enviroment post birth indicating intelligence and a sense of being. Newborns have a built in survival instinct to seek out food, not unique to humans alone.

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  82. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    @ markra

    What is the definitive line in determining best interests and how does it differ for a sick newborn or a person with terminal cancer?

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  83. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    This topic doesn’t really interest me today aside from the fact that I believe any and every question should be debatable including whether to “gas all Jews” (berend 9:47 am).

    While one might legitimately question the motives of an average person who raised such a proposal in normal conversation, surely academics, and philosophers in particular, should be free to explore any idea for the sake of argument. I’m not sure why people are worried. If an argument truly has no merits, and this argument surely has no merit, then debating the matter will only reveal that to be the case.

    Shielding a particular topic from debate never advances human knowledge and it in fact encourages the ideas we seek to prohibit. Prohibition on holocaust denial is one such example where the prohibition has become a means by which holocaust deniers can legitimately claim victimhood due to their fundamental rights to freedom of thought and conscience being impinged upon. Such a claim to victimhood serves to attract others to their cause despite the underlying ideas having no merit.

    A rational person should be able to consider any idea no matter how offensive or revolting on first glance. People who can’t do this close their minds and their intellect suffers. Without the ability to debate offensive ideas we would never have progressed to the point we are now. It was once offensive to suggest the Earth round, it was once offensive to question God’s existence, and it was once offensive to regard other races as equal. This is not to equate those ideas to the present proposal. My point is that advancing human knowledge depends upon the principle that anything is debatable and that people should not be censured and punished merely for considering an idea for the sake of argument.

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  84. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    In fact I did read the article.

    Try again.

    So you would have noticed that parts of it pertained to babies with problems that give them “a hopeless prognosis” and cause them “what parents and medical specialists consider to be unbearable suffering”…? Yeah?

    Murdering children is wrong. We do not have to debate that. And there is nothing remotely “rational” about doing so.

    Not even if it strengthens our resolve that children should NOT be murdered?

    Not even if it gives us another whole new reason in support of our belief that they should NOT be murdered? (by showing us another flawed argument to the contrary?)

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  85. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    Markra says:- “argument about such a stupid topic”

    Why is it a stupid topic?

    >>”Those academics who wrote about it are likely Academics on Drugs”

    Nope, they raise a very pertinent question:

    :arrow: “Why should the act of birth automatically bestow human rights on a being that a split second before birth didn’t have those rights? The being is essentially the same thing, albeit a few seconds older so what has changed?”
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Northland Wahine says:- “Because I do not believe I need academics to tell me what I think is right and what I think is wrong”

    I doubt they would presume to do that. They might question your assumptions, so perhaps that is what you feel uncomfortable about. Couple of questions you might like to consider:

    What makes a human human? The follow up question predictably is is a foetus human? (but you must consider the first question objectively without the second question in mind)

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  86. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Lee01,


    The problem is that not all “rational” debate is good and useful. It may have been on some issues, such as slavery, but that does not mean it is justifiable on every issue or every propostion.

    Murdering children is wrong. We do not have to debate that. And there is nothing remotely “rational” about doing so.

    So on the one hand we have Lee telling us what should and should not be debated. But I prefer a different approach to human knowledge, very aptly put by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty:


    “There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.”

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  87. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    PS a markra

    I am extremely offended at you discussing extreme examples of international genocide in order to make a philosophical point. Those kind of ideas are best left undiscussed. You are doing it to feed those who obviously have psychological problems. You are like an Academic on Drugs who has nothing better to do.

    There are those out their who can’t see the problem with this. You are of course exercising your freedom of thought, although I feel sorry for you. Known as Insane. Such people who usually have such thought have an obviously pscyiatric issue of some sort.

    There will be those who might act on it, as there have always been. Medicine usually label those types of people, Criminally insane.

    By arguing this topic with potential genocidal maniacs that even consider it valid you are feeding this topic as legitimate by giving credibility to it.

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  88. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Murdering children is wrong. We do not have to debate that. And there is nothing remotely “rational” about doing so.

    You’re missing the point, Lee. Try reading the article. Take Nia Glassie, for example. She suffered horribly. What if she hadn’t suffered? That’s what the authors are talking about.

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  89. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @Matt (148) Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 9:25 am
    Has it not occured to anyone else that this may be a ploy by some pro-lifers?

    Oh My God, Heaven forbid – it’s the dreadful pro-lifers!!!! Typical collectivist positioning that insinuates you might be craaazy for thinking that a foetus might be deserving of a right to life.
    I’m reluctantly “pro-choice” but:
    If you can’t get it out of you by 8-to 20 weeks then you’ve pretty much got a living breathing hooman inside of you. One that still might die if your body shuts down on you and birth is the only way you’ll survive or one that has so many defects that it’s parents have to let it go.
    So, there are blurry lines, and sometimes babies are let go for good reason b4 and after birth, but you’ve got a baby there at 13-20 weeks and viable at 23. And sometimes babies are “terminated” for no good reason, like the male twins because Mum wanted a girl, but society says that’s okay. You, know, with attitudes to women and young people and babies.
    And if you shut down debate with attitudes like “ploy by pro-lifers”, we as a society wind up less compassionate rather than more so.
    To me, there is insanity on both side of the abortion debate; that is the extremism. It leads to insanity.

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  90. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Lee01 would have us believe that we do not need to consider whether killing babies is okay in order to know that it is not okay. Such a debate is not rational in his view. The logical implication is that we know something about that which we have not considered. It’s ridiculous reasoning and I believe it is dishonest too.

    I believe Lee01 has considered it in his own mind without expressing it and it is on the basis of that internal debate within his mind that he comes to the correct conclusion that killing babies is wrong. What Lee01 worries about is that by expressing the debate outside of his mind, people might infer that he takes the contrary view seriously.

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  91. Fletch (6,294 comments) says:

    Weihana, I’m not saying that everything can’t be debated, but there are some things so obviously wrong and right that any rational person can see. Like, for instance, murder is wrong; or infanticide is wrong, pedophilia is wrong. I would have thought that was obvious and that no debate was needed.

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  92. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Like, for instance, murder is wrong; or infanticide is wrong, pedophilia is wrong

    You too have missed the point of the research.

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  93. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    Interesting people say killing children is just wrong wrong wrong, and we can’t talk about it yet the law says it is not always fully blameworthy. Infanticide being an example

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  94. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The from Wikipedia on the Groningen Protocol:

    The protocol, made up after extensive consultation between physicians, lawyers, parents and the Prosecution Office, offers procedures and guidelines how to achieve the correct decision and performance. The final decision about “active ending of life on infants” is not in the hands of the physicians but with the parents, with physicians and social workers agreeing to it. Criteria are amongst others “unbearable suffering” and “expected quality of life”. Only the parents can start the procedure. The procedure is reported to be working well.

    For the Dutch public prosecutor, the termination of a child’s life (under age 12) is acceptable if 4 requirements were properly fulfilled:

    1.The presence of hopeless and unbearable suffering
    2.The consent of the parents to termination of life
    3.Medical consultation having taken place
    4.Careful execution of the termination

    Doctors who end the life of a baby must report the death to the local medical examiner, who in turn reports it to both the district attorney and to a review committee. The procedure differs in this respect from the black letter law governing voluntary euthanasia. There, the medical examiner sends the report only to the regional review committee, which alerts the district attorney only if it judges that the physician acted improperly.

    Legal status

    The Dutch euthanasia laws require people to ask for euthanasia themselves (voluntary euthanasia), and it is legal for people of 12 years and older. The Groningen Protocol does not give physicians unassailable legal protection. Case law has so far protected physicians from prosecution as long as they act in accordance with the protocol, but no black-letter law exists in this area.

    Review

    In 2005 a review study was undertaken of all 22 reported cases between 1997 and 2004. All cases concerned newborns with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. In all cases, at least 2 doctors were consulted outside the medical team. In 17 of 22 cases, a multidisciplinary spina bifida team was consulted. All parents consented to the termination of life; in 4 cases they explicitly requested it. The mean time between reporting of the case and the decision concerning prosecution was 5.3 months. None of the cases led to prosecution. The study concluded that all cases of active termination of life reported were found to be in accordance with good practice.

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  95. Mikey (13 comments) says:

    I am a subscriber to the JME, and can’t believe the controversy around this. This is what the Journal does. It takes a moral framework and stretches it to the very extreme to see whether it still holds. That is what this authors have done. They have taken a proposed framework and said “if we applied it to this scenario, what would the result be?” They are not advocating that position, they are not saying it is something that should ever be done. They are doing an exercise to demonstrate that a particular ethical framework might result in an extreme result. The JME does this on multiple topics in 12 issues a year. It often does it with abortion. If a journalist had spent 5 minutes flicking through an entire issue they would have realised this.

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  96. Matt (224 comments) says:

    Monique I agree with much of what you say, but to me this sort of suggestion is better ignored than debated. Debate implies that it is accepted as a rational proposition rather than an extreme flight of some rather sad people’s fancy.

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  97. Griff (7,515 comments) says:

    It sounds like the dutch have an good answer for the protection of the medical teams involved in these heartrending discussions
    hopefully we will head in the same direction with time. Leaving the medical professional in limbo with regards to termination makes the choices they make even harder.We must make the process of euthanasia transparent legal and just.

    I fail to see the right stying wholly sportive of the national party
    Its when you have debates like this that you see the divide between liberal and conservative on the right

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  98. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    # Fletch (2,390) Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Weihana, I’m not saying that everything can’t be debated, but there are some things so obviously wrong and right that any rational person can see. Like, for instance, murder is wrong; or infanticide is wrong, pedophilia is wrong. I would have thought that was obvious and that no debate was needed.

    Is murder wrong? I can think of a few scenarios where I would question that. Being the parent of Marino’s victim for instance.

    But that aside, I think what some seem to ignore is that the purpose of debate is to discover truth. This does not mean that when you debate something you are heading in the direction of changing your views. Debate is just as likely to strengthen the views you already hold by seeing them stand up to scrutiny.


    “The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded.”

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  99. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Weihana,

    “Lee01 would have us believe that we do not need to consider whether killing babies is okay in order to know that it is not okay.”

    Of course. Most normal people know it is wrong. They do not have to debate the issue because to normal people it is so blindingly obvious. Liberals however are not normal people. They are blinded by an irrational and morally bankrupt ideology.

    “Such a debate is not rational in his view. The logical implication is that we know something about that which we have not considered.”

    Of course. Because we DO.

    “It’s ridiculous reasoning and I believe it is dishonest too.”

    Its perfectly good reasoning. It is based formly on human experience. Most people not blinded by the stupidities of Liberalism know murder is wrong, know pedophilia is wrong, know killing babies is wrong. They do not need to have a debate or a discussion to come those conclusions because unlike Liberals they are not morally bankrupt ideologues who insist in “debating” the bleeding obvious.

    “I believe Lee01 has considered it in his own mind without expressing it and it is on the basis of that internal debate within his mind that he comes to the correct conclusion that killing babies is wrong.”

    Wrong. I did not have an “internal debate” to decide that torturing people is wrong, or that stealing is wrong, or that murder is wrong. I did not need to because my conscience already knows they are (God), and because I was brought up that way (Tradition).

    It is only Liberals who think we need to “debate” these things, because their starting point is that there is no Truth, no God, and no Tradition (human experience over the long-haul).

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  100. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “I think what some seem to ignore is that the purpose of debate is to discover truth.”

    Debate can not do that. Truth is not decided in debate, it already IS.

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  101. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Hundy :-P

    Debate can not do that. Truth is not decided in debate, it already IS.

    ^^^That is correct, I think that’s why he said “discover” not “decide.”

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  102. Griff (7,515 comments) says:

    The thrust of lee01 s debate
    “my conscience already knows they are (God),”
    We are not talking about your “god conscience” lee. we are talking about the frame work under which euthanasia should exist.
    It is all ready reality that that babies and old people get killed for humane reasons.

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  103. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Some commentaters above have dishonestly claimed that the paper is only talking about children with severe abnormalities. But that is not the case. Nor is it the case as Mikey claims that they are justing stretching moral limits to see how far they can bend (as though that were a good thing).

    In fact the authors of the paper have made very specific policy proposals, including that abortion “should also extend to healthy infants, because the interests of a mother who is unwilling to care for it outweigh a baby’s claims.”

    In other words babies in their proposal can be murdered for virtually any reason. They want the murder of post-birth babies to be on the same grounds as current abortion laws, which means if a mother decides she does not want it, the baby dies.

    Welcome to the world Liberals want. Disposable children. Nice.

    That RRM, Weihana and other Liberals are defending this says a great deal about how sick they have become and how twisted their so-called “rational” thinking is.

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  104. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “It is all ready reality that that babies and old people get killed for humane reasons.”

    Most of the time they get killed for inhumane reasons. There is no “framework” which makes that right.

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  105. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    I remember the quote by Ronald Reagan saying “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born”.

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  106. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Lee01,


    Wrong. I did not have an “internal debate” to decide that torturing people is wrong, or that stealing is wrong, or that murder is wrong. I did not need to because my conscience already knows they are (God), and because I was brought up that way (Tradition).

    It is only Liberals who think we need to “debate” these things, because their starting point is that there is no Truth, no God, and no Tradition (human experience over the long-haul).


    However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth. 21
    There is a class of persons (happily not quite so numerous as formerly) who think it enough if a person assents undoubtingly to what they think true, though he has no knowledge whatever of the grounds of the opinion, and could not make a tenable defence of it against the most superficial objections. Such persons, if they can once get their creed taught from authority, naturally think that no good, and some harm, comes of its being allowed to be questioned. Where their influence prevails, they make it nearly impossible for the received opinion to be rejected wisely and considerately, though it may still be rejected rashly and ignorantly; for to shut out discussion entirely is seldom possible, and when it once gets in, beliefs not grounded on conviction are apt to give way before the slightest semblance of an argument. Waving, however, this possibility—assuming that the true opinion abides in the mind, but abides as a prejudice, a belief independent of, and proof against, argument—this is not the way in which truth ought to be held by a rational being. This is not knowing the truth. Truth, thus held, is but one superstition the more, accidentally clinging to the words which enunciate a truth.

    Sorry if the endless quoting is getting boring for some, but it seems pointless trying to improve on what is already apt to the task. :)

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  107. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Lee01,


    That RRM, Weihana and other Liberals are defending this says a great deal about how sick they have become and how twisted their so-called “rational” thinking is.

    As I said I don’t really care for that particular discussion, at least not today. I simply believe you, and people like you, are unthinking. You believe in certain truths on prejudice rather than thought and reason. It’s not enough to hold the correct opinion.

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  108. Griff (7,515 comments) says:

    Most of the time they get killed for inhumane reasons. There is no “framework” which makes that right.

    We are discussing those that do not reach your MOST threshold
    Or you do not have one and are happy for people to die in agony so that you do not get your hands dirty.
    Or keep the machines running indefinitely because you will not face death.

    Would you show compassion to a badly hurt animal and put it out of its misery?
    why not expand that compassion to humanity?

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  109. eszett (2,401 comments) says:

    The funniest thing about Lee01 is that he cannot even see how ironic and contradictory all his outbursts are.

    They do not have to debate the issue because to normal people it is so blindingly obvious.

    which is

    perfectly good reasoning

    and

    They are blinded by an irrational and morally bankrupt ideology.

    yet he admits

    I did not need to because my conscience already knows they are (God), and because I was brought up that way (Tradition).

    LOL cats would be proud

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  110. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Why should a baby die just because his mother does not want to look after him? For centuries people have been looking after other people’s babies. A friend of mine adopted a Downs Syndrome child. There are people out there who are able to love and care for such children. In some cultures they are considered to be angels.

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  111. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Why should a baby die just because his mother does not want to look after him

    I wish I had a dollar for every poster who has commented but who hasn’t read the research.

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  112. eszett (2,401 comments) says:

    Indeed, Ross69. But of course, if you follow Lee01s “reasoning”, there is no need to read the paper, is there? You just “know”.

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  113. eszett (2,401 comments) says:

    It’s been posted before, but just in case:

    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/02/22/medethics-2011-100411.full

    I don’t particularly agree with it’s conclusion and actually it could just as well be used to argue against late term abortions

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  114. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    Lee says:- “Truth is not decided in debate, it already IS.”

    The physical world may well be fundamentally true, but all ethical systems are artificial constructs which were either cobbled together over the course of history, or were built upon assumed premises.

    Saying something *is* without any attempt at rational justification is simply a waste of energy.

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  115. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    and actually it could just as well be used to argue against late term abortions

    AHA!!

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  116. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    Lee01:

    Welcome to the world Liberals want. Disposable children. Nice.

    That RRM, Weihana and other Liberals are defending this says a great deal about how sick they have become and how twisted their so-called “rational” thinking is.

    Not sure if trolling, or just very stupid…?

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  117. Thomas the Unbeliever (141 comments) says:

    Newsflash – Erwin Schrödinger did not actually lock his cat in a box!

    I expect that few in the hysterical chorus commenting here and in the MSM have actually read what Giubilini & Minerva wrote, or understand the context in which that article was written.

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  118. Tookinator (221 comments) says:

    Could they extend this scheme to under-performing MP’s?

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  119. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Scott Chris,


    …all ethical systems are artificial constructs which were either cobbled together over the course of history, or were built upon assumed premises

    I think that’s an oversimplification. An objective ethical statement involves two basic elements: the goal and the means to achieve the goal. The goal is an assumed premise, the means to achieve the goal is an objective truth.

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  120. gump (1,634 comments) says:

    joana said:

    Why should a baby die just because his mother does not want to look after him? For centuries people have been looking after other people’s babies. A friend of mine adopted a Downs Syndrome child. There are people out there who are able to love and care for such children. In some cultures they are considered to be angels.

    —————————-

    Down’s Syndrome is at the mild end of childhood disability.

    You need to open your eyes to the true horrors of severe congenital disorders and malformative syndromes such as:

    Spina bifida
    Hydrocephalus
    Anencephaly
    Treacher Collins syndrome
    Angelman Syndrome
    Harlequin type ichthyosis
    Lissencephaly

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  121. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Scott Chris,

    Actually I should say an objective ethical argument contains a goal and the means to achieve it. Many ethical statements only allude to a cogent underlying argument.

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  122. chiz (1,133 comments) says:

    Could we abort Winston?

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  123. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    Weihana says:- “the means to achieve the goal is an objective truth”

    Err no, to put it bluntly. It’s a subjective truth.

    :arrow: “A proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are met and are “mind-independent”—that is, not met by the judgment of a conscious entity or subject.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_(philosophy)

    >>”an objective ethical argument”

    There is no such thing. All goals are created to meet a perception of need.

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  124. Don the Kiwi (1,705 comments) says:

    Interesting that the title of the post is, When does Life Begin.

    Its patently obvious to everyone – you don’t have to be a gaenocologist, biologist or paediatrician to know that life begins as soon as the ovum receives the sperm and starts growing – thats the start of life, and therefore, when life begins.

    So then, the argument developes,BUT is it human life? or if it is, if its just a clump of cells, is it REALLY???

    And as there has been no other biological intervention, the obvious answer is, of course its human life. And that’s at the core of the issue, not only about abortion, but this issue under discussion as well.

    Now many of us know that it is wrong to kill innocent human life, as has been expressed in ths thread. And since the question has been raised, it therefore needs to be responded to – not with emotive outrage, but with calm logic, based on Reason and Nature. If we consider – as most conservatives, and religionists, and atheists and secular humanists who have really thought this question through – that human life is unique, that we are not just an intelligent animal,that humanity has a dignity that needs to be recognised and preserved, then this proposition neds to be rejected.

    If however, we think that human life is really dispensible dependent on its utility – if its deformed, intellectually disabled or any other reason why it does not deserve to live, then eugenics becomes reasonable. The Nazis were right. Jenghis Khan did the right thing to get rid of those useless Afghan peasants. Margaret Sanger and all those other figures throughout history who have argued for the elimination of those who do not fit the mould are correct, according to the utilitarian and liberal relativistic thinking of those who make these propositions.

    I believe there are no grey areas. Either human life has value, even if it is impaired, has a dignity that applies to us all, and is worth keeping despite its inconvenience, its expense or its unsightliness, or it isn’t. And I haven’t even discussed here whehter or not our Creator is involved.

    Society has to make its decision – abortion, and this “post-natal abortion” – is the start of a slippery slope that we are beginning to see realised in our own day. Jenghis Khan, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol pot, are arguably about to have some company.

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  125. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    # Scott Chris (3,805) Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Weihana says:- “the means to achieve the goal is an objective truth”

    Err no, to put it bluntly. It’s a subjective truth.

    I don’t mind bluntness. But a cogent argument would be nice too. :)

    Surely you would accept that the means to build…say… a nuclear weapon is not a subjective truth. Reality dictates that we must follow certain rules to make that happen. The same principle applies to any other goal we set for ourselves.


    :arrow: “A proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are met and are “mind-independent”—that is, not met by the judgment of a conscious entity or subject.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_(philosophy)

    Agreed.


    >>”an objective ethical argument”

    There is no such thing. All goals are created to meet a perception of need.

    I would say that certain needs are not just perceived. Oxygen, food, warmth… these are not perceived needs. They are actual needs without which we will die. But I would concede that a desire to live is itself subjective and not independent of our minds.

    But that is why I split the matter into two parts. I concede the goal is subjective: it is borne of desire which cannot be mind-independent. But the means to achieve our desires is mind-independent and depends on the rules of an independent reality. Achieving outcomes such as peace and prosperity is no different, in principle, to achieving outcomes such as constructing a tall building.

    Reality imposes rules on how things can be done and objective morality for me refers to the objective relationship between subjective goals and the laws of the universe.

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  126. eszett (2,401 comments) says:

    And as there has been no other biological intervention, the obvious answer is, of course its human life.

    Well, Don, it’s not quite as obvious. Why is fertilised egg suddenly some much more valuable then the sperm and the egg separately? What has changed when? It’s actually quite an absurd proposition.

    Consider an easier example. We have arbitrarily defined that when someone reaches his/her 18th birthday they become an adult.
    So is someone a day after their 18th birthday so much more mature than the day before?

    So when does a person become an adult? Somewhere between being born and turning 18. The very same way a fertilized egg turns into a human somewhere between conception and birth.

    To say it is obvious that it is at conception is as absurd as saying that it is obvious that a newborn is an adult.

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  127. Scott Chris (6,058 comments) says:

    Weihana:- “Surely you would accept that the means to build…say… a nuclear weapon is not a subjective truth.”

    That’s irrelevant to this discussion. (as is your reference to various other physical phenomena) I refer you back to what I originally said to Lee:

    >”The physical world may well be fundamentally true, but all ethical systems are artificial constructs”

    You challenged that with:

    >”An objective ethical statement involves……. the means to achieve the goal is an objective truth.”

    There is no such thing as an objective ethical statement. Can you give me an example of one? For it to be so in a philosophical context, it has to remain constant no matter whose perspective you choose to take. The logic may be internally consistent, but it remains subjective nonetheless. Anything *cerebral* that is constructed for a specific purpose is inherently subjective (as you conceded), therefore anything it contains pertains to that original subjectivity. Nothing can change that.

    A description of an ethical system can be loosely objective because it contains little value judgement, but that is another matter entirely.

    My subjective opinion is that your use of the word ‘objective’ is inappropriate in this context. :)

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  128. Don the Kiwi (1,705 comments) says:

    eszett.

    You’re either stupid or in denial.

    We have an ovum and a sperm – when they join, something marvellous happens. The “clump of Cells” begins to grow and develop – its called “the start of life””

    Wake up.

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  129. eszett (2,401 comments) says:

    If someone needs to wake up, take a good look at yourself, Don, before making such silly statements.

    What’s an IUD then in your eyes? A weapon of mass destruction?

    Maybe you should do read up on some biology. You would know that a good proportion of fertilised eggs never take and get spontaneously aborted. The one point of fertisling the egg is no more or less marvelous than any other step on the way, from the production of the egg and sperm all the way to birth.

    You just arbitrarily chose one point in time.

    But never mind facts and science. Just keep your head deeply buried in your doctrine.

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  130. chiz (1,133 comments) says:

    Don the Kiwi: [...]life begins as soon as the ovum receives the sperm and starts growing – thats the start of life, and therefore, when life begins.

    So then, the argument developes,BUT is it human life?

    Life begins at conception, yes. However personhood, which is the issus at stake, doesnt.

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  131. markra (200 comments) says:

    @insider

    I don’t think you have read the article that is being discussed, these people are not only talking about killing the new born due to illness, or birth defect but also because it may not fit in with the mothers plans: Read below:

    “But this should also extend to healthy infants, the pair argue in the BMJ group’s Journal of Medical Ethics, because the interests of a mother who is unwilling to care for it outweigh a baby’s claims.”

    By trying to link this to your hospital example is misleading, offensive and untrue.
    Those that would authorise such a practice are the kind of people that have low value for the life of a child. This is counter to medical ethics.

    Why wouldn’t the mother or interested parties put the child up for adoption or some other option. Couldn’t care less about whether I have offended you. Discussing such an idea as these philospohers are discussing is offensive to me. If you wish to discuss this philosophical idea as legitamate then you can’t rule out other philosophical ideas that you might might be offensive to you, even though such ideas may have formed the basis for past genocide. If nothing is off the table then all ideas are then available for consideration.

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  132. markra (200 comments) says:

    I propose that we extend the killing of newborns to include some adults, that possibly may include some people on this forum. Is that a concept that we can openly debate sensibly? If not why not?

    If we can kill new borns because they are an inconvenience, who is to say we shouldn’t be able to kill each other as it suits. This should be able to be discussed logically to find truth. Given that no topic should taboo to be able to be discussed sensibly.

    If you examine this idea from the premise of natural selection, the strongest and healthiest humans should survive to ensure the survival of the human species and those that are weak or low intelligence and feable should not be allowed to breed. This was the basis of a lot of the Nazis views of extermination of inferior humans. Were they possibly correct? If you look at the animal kingdom of other species, this is the norm.

    What is wrong with this?

    If we can discuss the killing of Human babies because they are an inconvenience earnestly without offence, then we should be able to debate this as well without offence.

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  133. markra (200 comments) says:

    my comment above is for those that can see no problem with discussing the killing of New borns, or who think it is something that needs consideration

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  134. markra (200 comments) says:

    “Weihana (1,582) Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Actually I should say an objective ethical argument contains a goal and the means to achieve it. Many ethical statements only allude to a cogent underlying argument.”

    This sounds like a string of over complicated dribble. Bluntly I think Weihana has his head up his arse and living in fantasy land (where a lot of philosophers exist)

    He obviously reads the dictionary and has been taught what to think at University and believes in his own mind that he is of greater intelligence than those on this forum. He writes:”…Not sure if trolling, or just very stupid…?…”

    What she doesn’t realise is that he is only spouting what he has been taught during his schooling. He is deluded, believing in his own superiority, that he alone is capable of objectivity as well as only those that concur with her world view.

    Surely if he is the philosopher he thinks he is, he would have the humility to know that according to current scientific view, he is merely a creature whose thought processes are only an electro chemical reactions, and his cognition based only on his current world view, beliefs and experience of the world gathered over a short period of time in the scheme of things.
    Weihana writes: “people like you, are unthinking. You believe in certain truths on prejudice rather than thought and reason. It’s not enough to hold the correct opinion.”

    He is arrogant and believes that only he is capable of true objectivity, as he is unaware that he can never be in possession of the true nature (the facts) of how the world really is. Things only seem the way they are, but they aren’t . If he really understands philosophy he should be aware of the Allegory of Plato’s Cave and how his arrogance misrepresents any philosophical argument. Even Plato did not have your arrogance.

    It always makes me laugh when someone believes that their belief is OBJECTIVE superior to someone elses. AS for the Truth, you are not capable of knowing it. It is your truth, Your experience, your limited knowledge.What you call a cogent argument is an argument that concurs with your current held beliefs at this point in time.

    You don’t seem to aware that you have beliefs and a world view. You make the mistake of thinking your beliefs are factual,hence this is your blind spot and hence you are not capable of objectivity. I don’t believe anyone (including myself) is capable of true objectivity. To do so would be to set your self up as some sort of supreme being in possesion of all the facts and knowing truly of how things are. (ie. at what age cognition starts)

    To be objective you need to know the true nature of things. You are trying to dominate others with your subjective beliefs , so you are therefore not open to other realities and therefore as subjective as anyone else.

    Exactly the same can be said for RPM. He tries to dominate the forum with his views and personality and resorts to insults when he feels his position is threatened. This is someone who holds onto his beliefs tightly and feels threatened when questionedand feels the need to try and dominate others to make up for his own impotence hence the addiction to blogs (over 4000postings) because he could not dominate people this way outside of this virtual world. You are also incapable of objectivity and show your weakness by your behavior and your need to insult others.

    I would be more objective to allow others have their say without the need for personal insults. Hopefully you understand this.

    I understand that given your personalities you will likely take this personally rather than seeing the folly of your current positions.

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  135. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    There’s an intermittent academic debate about whether or not the internet has raised the standards of intellectual discussion amongst the general public. I think the pointyheads could seize on this thread and conclude that the answer to that question is a resounding no.

    Have none of the benighted folks banging their heads against rhetorical walls here heard of something called the reductio ad absurdum argument?

    The authors of the paper under discussion are quite obviously not advocating the killing of newborns, but making a point about what they see as the unfirm grounding of current arguments in defence of abortion. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily pro- or anti-abortion – as philosophers, and therefore geeks, they’re quite possibly more interested in the minutae of logic and argument than in the issue which is being argued. Certainly, though, their reductio ad absurdum argument could be taken over and deployed by conservatives opposed to abortion – if those conservatives weren’t so thick that they mistook a reductio ad absurdum argument for a positive proposition. With the Republican Party unable to come up with thinkers any deeper than Santorum and Romney, and plonkers at sites like this unable to recognise a venerable philosophical method, the right certainly doesn’t seem in the rudest intellectual health at the moment.

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  136. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    David wrote

    It is worth noting the authors seem to be from the School of Philosophy, not medical doctors.

    This is of little significance because the question is not one of medicine but one of medical ethics, and ethics is a branch of philosophy not medicine. Doctors have no special expertise in ethics.
    The first flaw in their arguments is that it is not legal to abort a foetus, once it is capable of surviving outside the womb. Abortion is legal because a mother has rights over her womb which trump that of the foetus. Those rights disappear once the foetus can survive outside the womb, and most definitely after they have left the womb.
    This is irrelevant, fully grown cows can survive outside a women’s womb as well, yet the law does not make it illegal to kill cows. The reason, cows are not beings which have a right to life. In this instance the authors offered the standard pro abortion argument that fetus lacks a right to life person because it lacks self- awareness, whether its viable or not makes no difference to whether it is self -ware does not depend on its ability to survive outside the womb it’s a matter of fetal brain development. All the authors point out is that its also true that infants lack self-awareness as well. It’s worth noting David that in your previous justifications for abortion on this blog you yourself appealed to fetal psychology to argue a fetus is not a human being.
    Second, I think the point the authors make can be applied to the viability argument as well. Because dependence does not end a viability, true the fetus is no longer dependent on the mother specifically, however even a new born infant cannot survive unless some other person makes significant sacrifices to care for it. The authors however make the point in the article that in some cases, there are new born infants which the parents do not want to care for and the costs to others in society of looking after them are significant. In this instance, the infant in question is dependent on others sacrificing something they have “rights to” and so by parity of reasoning they should be allowed to “choose” to kill it.
    I agree that’s “proposal is horrific. The precedent it creates is monstrous.” The problem is by accepting the arguments for legal abortion we have already accepted the precedent. Something which has been pointed out repeatedly on both sides of the debate in biomedical ethics for some time.

    (Oh and Scott, this is not a reductio ad absurdium, though some conservatives such as Philip Devine have used it this way, the authors follow the arguments of Michael Tooley and Peter Singer both pro abortion advocates who support infanticide. Some of us “thick conservatives” actually have studied moral philosophy)

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  137. markra (200 comments) says:

    The problem with this so called philosophical debate is it is hinged on assumptions that may or may not be true.”… baby is not harmed by missing out on a life it cannot conceptualize..”..
    If this is an accurate take on the article, on what authority can philosophers build their argument on this premise, where do they get their information.

    As most people cannot remember being a new born how can they know what level of cognition has been reached at this stage of their development. By measuring brain waves? Certainly not by asking it questions. Just because you don’t remember an event doesn’t mean you didn’t understand or feel or think what was happening around you at that point in time.

    Its about as valid as trying to conceptualize what level of cognition a whale has. Or some other animal. It may make a great philosphical exercise however, grounded in unreality and likely to remain out of reach.

    We are likely never going to know, although we could guess and argue , the answer would remain unattainable.

    I can only speak from my experience. When I was 5 years old, I had no concept of what life would be like when I was 10. I couldn’t picture or even understand what that would be like. Now that I have experienced it, I do.
    Would killing me a 5 be of little consequence just because I could not conceptualize of what life would be like a few years later and onward. So therefore the loss of these later years be of no consequence?

    This argument is very abstract and therefore makes no sense because those making it likely do not have the science to reliably know if their assumptions are correct on which to base their arguments.

    Like Scott Hamilton said above, it is a pure philosophical debate that really appears to have little meaning, except the meaning people give to it based on their own existing world view.

    How the topic is introduced above is likely to be a laypersons simplification of the actual paper, to the point of inaccuracy.

    Maybe the paper should have stayed between philosophy geeks so they could banter this hypothetical construct between themselves to their hearts content rather than release a paper they likely knew that would spark a firestorm of criticism and debate based on ignorance of their true intentions. Maybe this was deliberate attempt by them to gain publicity and fame by releasing a paper they knew would generate controversy.

    @ Scott Hamilton – You first paragraph reeks of arrogance. I take it that you do not include yourself in group you call the “general public”. I take it you are one of the enlightened educated academic elite with the secret knowledge of the ” venerable philosophical method” with a monopoly on rational thought.

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  138. markra (200 comments) says:

    (cont) I find it interesting how often those who are well educated feel a need to impress and invalidate others with their education. I think is a misuse of their education making up for obvious deficiencies in other aspects of their personality .

    Education should open your mind to be more understanding of others concerns, especially those that may not posses the new found knowledge you may, as you were there once.

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  139. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    It’s hard not to have a chuckle at some of the commenters in this thread, marka. A couple of academics write a paper which is clearly meant to challenge arguments made by some advocates of abortion – and opponents of abortion jump up and down and condemn it! Did you think about trying to read their paper, and understand the discourse it is a part of, before accusing them of using LSD and making other odd charges? I notice you have a swipe at people who have the temerity to consult the dictionary, but I think you’ll find it’s good idea to know the meaning of words you use in arguments. You could do worse than look up ‘prehistoric’ in the dictionary (hint: it’s got something to do with written language) before you use it to describe Islamic society again.

    Contrary to what you say, there’s nothing arcane about the reductio ad absurdum argument – it’s used all of the time outside of philosophy departments. During the minor leaders’ debate in the run-up to the last election, for instance, Hone Harawira made the case for an increase in the minimum wage to (I think) fifteen dollars, and Don Brash responded by saying something like “If increasing the minimum wage is so good, why don’t we increase it to thirty dollars”. Brash was using the reductio ad absurdum – he was trying to show that Hone’s argument had absurd consequences, if its premises were taken to their logical conclusions. Whether Brash’s use of the argument was successful is, of course, another matter. We’d need to look at whether he correctly identified Hone’s premises before we passed judgment on that.

    Philosophers are not, by and large, political animals. There are a few, like the right-winger Roger Scruton or the left-winger Jean-Paul Sartre, who have become famous for their political engagement, but most just like analysing concepts and arguments. That doesn’t mean the work they do is useless. If we condemned philosophers because their work does not have immediate applications then we’d also have to trash theoretical physicists and theologians (hint: I just used a reductio ad absurdum argument).

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  140. markra (200 comments) says:

    Totally understand and agree with your points about the irony of the arguments of how the anti abortionists may have totally missed the point.

    I have however only looked at this argument on a superficial level, on the basis or what has been presented above at the start of this thread. If you consider it in earnest, do any of us have the time to learn every detail of the claims, the issues involved, on every topic that is raised on a daily basis. If this was a prerequisite to have a valid comment there would be no comments or opinions from anyone. If this was to be a requirement, then how far would you go. Should you learn not only the philosophical theory involved but the biology and science used as a basis for this discourse. Af what point would you know enough.
    ie
    Drink deep the Pieran Spring: A little knowledge is dangerous, but who of us knows enough as to be out of danger.

    I am more interested, not in the theory, but the results, changes in policy of what government and society accept.

    As I mentioned I suspect that maybe the intentions of the authors of the paper have probably been misunderstood, misreported etc.

    What is of concern to me is what is being interpreted of the paper. And what likely affect it will have in reality?

    As for having a chuckle, remember that every view comes from a perspective and an individual experience. Just because someone does not have academic training does not render their view invalid. It always amazes me how academics seem to rubbish all religion, it’s tenets, principles as unthinking, archaic. Academia is not the only source of valid knowledge. There is still much to learn from those who maybe have learning from other sources.

    Religion (depending on your view) comes from either a supreme being or what have you, or maybe from hundreds or thousands of years of philosophy, human critical thinking. For example a number of the basic commandments in the bible I am sure would match with what could be logical to the benefit of society using logic argument. Of course there is material that does not match.

    I do agree that having unquestioning devotion to what you are being told is unhealthy and dangerous and this tends to be a trait in organised religion however, this is not limited to religion. It is a human trait to which scientists and philosophers are not necessarily immune.

    In regard to LSD – this was a tongue and cheek comment. Consulting the dictionary, no I think that is healthy

    In regard to prehistory, maybe an exaggeration however, If you look at countries such as Afganistan, where children are attacked for going to school to learn how to read and write then maybe the word prehistoric might becomea consequence of such actions. ALso where historical architecture and hisrtory is destroyed , ie the destruction of the Buddas a number of years back by the Taliban, the usage not as outlandish as at first glance.

    Philosophers not being Political . I think you may have a little too much faith in this belief.

    Questions? Are they human? Do they have opinions (personal ones)? Do they vote? I imagine a number would.
    Do they have views and their own take on the world?

    Are they impartial,I hypothesis no. although possibly likely to question or be aware of their own bias

    I , in my limited experience, have never met anyone who is impartial, I include myself in that.

    Objectivity is an ideal to aspire to but I suspect will be forever unattainable.

    Sorry this post is loose and poorly structured f but am tired and and to get up for work tomorrow. Thanks you for the debate. Points taken .

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  141. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Fair enough markra. As I say, though, I think that you ought to avoid making these enormous generalisations about groups of people. You assert that academics are ipso facto anti-religious, but here in Auckland one can study theology or the philosophy of religion at Auckland university. Two of the leading religious thinkers in the country, Anglican John Bishop and Baptist Peter Lineham, teach at Auckland uni and the Albany campus of Massey respectively. Internationally, some of the most important universities – the Catholic Notre Dame College, for example – are religious in character. You just make yourself look silly, then, when you make the blanket claim that academics are always attacking religion.

    Prehistoric is a technical term, not an insult. It doesn’t imply any sort of judgment on a society to which it is applied – it just registers the fact that scholars of that society don’t have access to written records describing its history. Ancient Egypt was a prehistoric society until the 1820s, when its hieroglyhs were deciphered, and four thousand years of history suddenly became available to us. The character of ancient Egypt didn’t change in the 1820s – our access to ancient Egypt changed.

    Of course all philosophers have opinions about the world, but most of them don’t take up positions on the controversies in their fields based on their political beliefs. It would be impossible for them to do so, because they’re so often dealing with very abstruse matters, like logic, epistemology, and ontology.

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  142. Redbaiter (8,528 comments) says:

    “I take it you are one of the enlightened educated academic elite with the secret knowledge of the ” venerable philosophical method” with a monopoly on rational thought.”

    Not only that, he allows entirely fake messages to be posted on his blog, an act that shows that beneath the arrogant academic veneer you have observed, there lurks just another sneaking unethical leftist creep.

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  143. markra (200 comments) says:

    @Scott you mention that I should avoid generalizations.

    It is by generalizations that humans can make presumptions of how to think and act in the world.

    It is one of the factors in which me make every day decisions.

    For example, because I have driven down other roads before or have driven other cars before, I do not have to relearn how to drive every time I get in a new car. Even though the cars may have different features and may handle different.

    It is why if we have eaten food before we don’t have to check if it is safe to eat each time. Even though I have eaten apples before someone may have injected it with poison this time. This is a an example of genralisation.

    You have interpreted my “prehistoric” term to have meant as an insult however, this could also be seen as generalization, I gave you reasons of how Afghanistan, living in an extreme religious culture could again become prehistoric from a future perspective. By all knowledge and history being destroyed by religious zealouts. Your attempt to focus of this terminology is hair splitting.

    By claiming that I should avoid generalizations runs counter to the human psyche and is unrealistic. The philosophers who have argued this debate and decided of an outcome, have also made generalizations of biology and child development. They have their own personal bias of what medical studies to accept and which to ignore.

    In regard to religion, there is a vast difference between studying religion as an active pursuit and truly living believing it’s tenets. I have personally been what some may generalize a religious zealout in the past although I am no longer. I have found those that study religion at university vastly less knowledgeable of religion than those who live it on the inside, who think it.
    Because they have a religious title doesn’t mean that those individuals are truly religious. These are generalizations as well. Similar to the difference of studying a creatures habits in a zoo and living like and as one.

    You have made generalizations about the individuals names you have quoted, do you know them personally or have you merely read generally on their belief systems. These are generalizations as well.

    If you examine you own claims of the crime of generalization, I suggest you are just as guilty as everyone else on this blog.

    This is why I complain of those who feel they have superior ability of rational thought taking the “high ground” over the “general public” as being self deluded. You don’t hold a monopoly on rational thought as you are a human, fallible and ignorant as the rest of us.

    Your claim of making me look silly may be correct in your way of thinking however, have you considered that your way of thinking may look silly from another s perspective.

    The use of the word “silly” is another generalization and case and point, of how when rational argument ceases , emotional outburst by the way of insults start.

    In regard to academics attacking religion. Most academics support evolution and do not support and creation “myths”(depends on your world view of course, not saying one way or the other). It is not something that is not considered academic at University these days so is unlikely supported as truthful by academia. So I stand by that claim. Just because you study something, doesn’t mean you believe it. That’s a totally different argument that I won’t go into here.

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  144. markra (200 comments) says:

    apologies correction :”Most academics support evolution and do not support and religious strories, such as creation “myths” …………………………………….”It is not something that is considered academic at University these days …”

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  145. RRM (9,826 comments) says:

    ____________________________@__@________@@______________________@________________________@__________

    (Tumbleweeds roll across the barren, desolate desert of this thread…)

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  146. markra (200 comments) says:

    Do you have a something rational to add RPM, or are you just killing some time.

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  147. MatthewFlannagan (18 comments) says:

    “It’s hard not to have a chuckle at some of the commenters in this thread, marka. A couple of academics write a paper which is clearly meant to challenge arguments made by some advocates of abortion – and opponents of abortion jump up and down and condemn it! Did you think about trying to read their paper, and understand the discourse it is a part of, before accusing them of using LSD and making other odd charges?

    It almost as funny as the string of distortions you pass of in the above quote.
    I have read the article, it’s not as you claim a reductio ad absurdium, nothing in the article suggest this and the authors claim to be advocating infanticide. Not only do they themselves contend this, but they explicitly base their conclusions on the work of John Harris, Peter Singer and Michael Tooley, all people who explicitly endorse infanticide, they also said quite clearly this was what they were doing in the radio interviews I have been on with them. The editor of the JME also has stated the argument is not a reduction ad absurdium but an argument for infanticide and even contrasted it with reductios that he might publish in the future. Nor is this some fringe idea, mainstream discussions of abortion rights by people like Tooley, Warren, Engelhard, Pojman, and numerous others have often explicitly adopted criteria of personhood which exclude infants this is widely known by those who read the literature. Similarly critics of abortion in the literature such as Don Marquis, Philip Devine, Paul Ramsey, have often pointed this very thing out in there critiques.

    Sorry you have to do more than claim “conservatives are thick” and claiming the article was a reductio and pretend no one who disagrees has read it or capable of engaging the arguments.

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  148. markra (200 comments) says:

    @Mathew Thanks for the comments, veru interesting, it looks like no one has an answer to this.

    I think all the lightweights have left his blog.

    Does anyone else have a comment on this?

    I agree on your comment re “conservatives are thick” comment. This doesn’t appear to be a well constucted argument that has been given any serious thought and looks like the brain has been turned off when this was written.

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